The Cost of Antimicrobial Resistance: A Looming Crisis

The Cost of Antimicrobial Resistance: A Looming Crisis

Antimicrobial resistant ‘superbugs’ pose a significant threat to public health, with the potential to cause 10,000 deaths annually in Australia by 2050, warns MTPConnect, Australia’s MedTech and Pharmaceutical industry growth centre. The failure to address the research and development market failure surrounding antimicrobial drugs could result in an estimated cost of up to $283 billion to the Australian economy by 2050.

Antimicrobials, which include antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals, are crucial in combating microorganisms that cause infections. However, the current approach to drug research has led to a decline in the production of new antibiotics, exacerbating the problem of antimicrobial resistance. Currently, around 5,200 deaths in Australia each year are attributed to antimicrobial resistance.

According to Stuart Dignam, the CEO of MTPConnect, Australia is on the brink of a “post-antibiotic era.” Urgent action is needed to address this impending crisis. MTPConnect and the Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network (AAMRN) have put forward a ‘Fighting Superbugs’ report containing nine recommendations to support local research and mitigate the impacts of market failure.

Among the recommendations is the introduction of a subscription model for two novel antimicrobials, which would ensure a steady revenue stream for pharmaceutical companies engaged in antimicrobial research. Additionally, extending data exclusivity provisions and reducing regulatory barriers for the approval of new antimicrobials in Australia are suggested measures to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to invest in this critical area.

The challenge lies in the perception of antimicrobial drug development as unprofitable due to low sales volumes and high research and development costs. Developing new antimicrobials can take 10 to 15 years and cost between $1.5 billion and $3 billion. Consequently, many major pharmaceutical companies have withdrawn from antibiotic research and development.

The report emphasizes that despite the urgent need for new antibiotics, no novel class of antibiotics has been brought to market in the last 35 years. To address this, the subscription model proposed by MTPConnect aims to provide a stable income for pharmaceutical companies. It would charge a fixed price, shared between the government and private healthcare, for the use of antibiotics across the healthcare system.

Addressing the looming crisis of antimicrobial resistance requires immediate action and collaboration between industry, government, and healthcare providers. With innovative approaches to funding, incentivizing research, and enhancing regulatory frameworks, it is possible to combat superbugs and preserve effective treatments for future generations.


What are antimicrobials?

Antimicrobials are a class of drugs designed to fight microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, evolve and become resistant to the drugs that were once effective in treating the infections they cause.

Why is antimicrobial resistance a concern?

Antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to public health as it limits the effectiveness of treatments for infectious diseases. It can lead to prolonged illnesses, increased healthcare costs, and even mortality.

What is the impact of antimicrobial resistance in Australia?

Currently, around 5,200 Australian deaths annually are associated with antimicrobial resistance. If immediate action is not taken to address the market failure in antimicrobial drug research, it is estimated that the annual death toll could reach 10,000 by 2050 in Australia.

What are the proposed solutions to combat antimicrobial resistance?

The ‘Fighting Superbugs’ report recommends several measures, including the introduction of a subscription model for novel antimicrobials, extending data exclusivity provisions, and reducing regulatory barriers for approval. These initiatives aim to incentivize research and development in this critical area.

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